What ever happened to customer service?

by Ray Chen in


This is mostly me complaining to remind myself why I shouldn't support large retail corporations and try my best to support our local mom and pop stores.

Perhaps I'm a little late to game, but it seems that having a bad experience at an old-fashion brick and mortar store is become much more common place. I've mostly been of the belief that people who work in a customer facing position are the people who actually care about the stuff they sell -- except for any kind of car dealer. Lately, however, good customer service seems to be reserved for tiny mom and pop stores that have no other choice except to differentiate on their service.

Let's take my experience with the LensCrafters at City Place in Edgewater. I'm not a new customer to LensCrafters and have had all but a handful of my glasses made at one of their convenient locations for the past 15ish years. This past Saturday, I decided that I was going to take advantage of my vision insurance and a little extra money in the FSA. I stopped by the Edgewater LensCrafters and tried on a few pairs. I don't normally do well when presented with more than a few choices, so glasses shopping usually takes a me a really long time, but I finally settled on a pair of Oakley Sculpts:


I actually took so long to choose a pair, that Yilin also got a pair. With our two pairs of frames chosen, the sales rep entered our prescriptions and insurance info and told us it would be ready on Monday. What happened to their one hour sevice? It didn't matter since the last pair that I got from them took 10 days! Plus, I didn't want to rush the technician...

I had enough trust in the quality of LensCrafters that I told Yilin that it I was fine with her picking up the glasses without me trying them on first. I was really shocked when I finally saw my glasses. The edges of the lenses were no where near finished and still had the rough edges from the cutting process. Plus, the nylon string used to hold the lens in place was not properly secured and when I did secure it, I found that the groove the was cut into the lens was cut so close to the edge that it didn't make a difference.

At this point I was a annoyed, but still gave LensCrafters the benifit of doubt and just attributed this to bad luck. I brought the lenses back into the store and that's when I lost my trust in large retailers.

First, I pointed out all the mistakes with my lenses to the sales woman. She checked them over and took them to the back to see what she could do. About 10-15 minutes later, she returned with all the rough edges cleaned up. I showed her that the grooves were still not properly etched, but she didn't really seem to care. Then I saw that they tried to correct some of the rough edges by filing more of the lens down. The problem was that they did such a bad job that it didn't look symetrical to the other lens. Did they bother to point that out to me? Of course not. When I showed this to her, she said that I'd have to wait an hour and a half while they redid the lenses. An inconvenience, but fine. It's what I wanted.

When the lenses were done and put back into the frames, I took another look at it. Much better. No more rough edges or asymetric lenses. I tried the glasses on and all I can see is this 1-2mm gap between the corner of the lens and the frame. I didn't notice this before and certainly didn't notice it when I first bought it. It was obviously a worksmanship issue. Does anyone in the store actually care enough to double check that what they're selling is reflective of something they're proud of?

Apparently not as it took several rounds of explaining to finally have them agree to redo it when a different technician is around. I told them that I'd wait for their best technician, but I don't really care anymore. If they still can't get this pair right, I'll be taking my business elsewhere. This time to a mom and pop shop where the sales people actually care about the quality of the products that they sell and where I know the money that I'm spending is going to people who work hard.


Not surprisingly, the folks at LC failed to produce a pair of lenses that would fit the frames. Worse still was how the manager refused to admit that there was even a problem. Sigh, I think the best way to explain the problem is to not patronize that company. At least they refunded me my money without any issues.